Saturday, 21 July 2012

Ohhhhhhhh . . . I do like to be beside the seasiiiiiiide !!!

Memories of  long, hot, sunny summers . . . & then there was 2012 :o)

Although I was *made in Birmingham* &, like all good things from Birmingham, have the stamp on my bum to prove it, I'm a Ramsgate girl through & through. I'm sure if I was cut in half, you'd find my name stamped in the middle, just like a decent bit of seaside rock :o) I couldn't imagine living anywhere else & even though my brothers, sister & parents have all moved away, I'm still here, held by invisible roots. If I was being fanciful, I'd go as far as to say that my ancestors have grabbed my ankles & are refusing to let go !! :o)

I don't know what it is about this poor, sad, run down old seaside town, but I love it here. There is history everywhere, you only have to open your eyes & look  properly :o)
When I was a kid, for a few summers my Nan rented one of the chalets along the front. She & my Mum both worked at Rovex - now Hornby Hobbies - & on their summer break, we'd all pootle off to the beach for the day. We had to walk down, but at the end of the day, when we were all worn out from the fresh sea air, the swimming & the general running about that kids do, we'd come up the cliff in the lift. Back then, they had an attendant who wore a hat, a jacket & carried a leather pouch with a ticket machine, rather like that of a bus conductor. I remember it cost 2p for adults & 1p for children :o) Sometimes, we caught a bus home, other times we walked & after a day at the beach, because we lived in Anns Road,  it was a LONG walk to the other side of town :o)

Back then, the summer holidays seemed to last forever. Later, as a Mum to an energetic daughter, the summer holidays seemed to last FOREVER but now, they whizz by in a flash & before you know it, it's Christmas once again.

Back then, it seemed that we really did have long sunny days from June to September. The beaches & parks were full, Pleasurama was busy & the Marina swimming pool, where my brothers, sister & I all learned swim, was a heaving mass of bodies, splashing about in the water, while Mums & grandma's looked on, smiling & waving but probably wishing they were somewhere else instead !! :o)

One of my biggest memories is of my Mum filling a 3 litre plastic squash bottle with orange squash & freezing it overnight. When we went off to the beach or the Marina, she'd pack sandwiches & crisps & then take this big bottle out of the freezer, put it in the bag with the sandwiches & off we'd all go. The bottle defrosted during the day & we had lovely cold squash to drink all day long :o)

The summer of 1976 was, at the time, the hottest one on record. One day, we all trooped off to the beach as usual, but unfortunately, even though I had sun cream on, I got badly burnt. I left home as pale as self raising flour, but when I returned, I was like a sunburnt tomato. I remember having a cool shower, being smothered in cream & being given one of my Dad's cotton pyjama jackets to wear in bed, but I was in agony for days. To this day, I have a triangle shaped redness where my neck meets my chest :o) If I remember correctly, it's that shape because part way through the day, I put a V necked shirt on over my cossie :o)

As a teenager, I didn't spend a lot of time on the beach. I wasn't really beach body shaped :o) I was first in line when they handed out slim figures & beautiful faces, but as I held the door open for everyone else, I ended up with  bad eyes, a face full of freckles, buck teeth, hair that even now looks as though it wants to jump off my head & make it's home elsewhere & a body like the Michelin man. The teeth are fine now, but the rest remains the same :o)

Shaun's older brother was a hairdresser, but back in the late 70s & early 80s, he'd spend the summer as one of the Bingo callers at Pleasurama. At the end of the season, he'd go back to hairdressing.  Like many youngsters in the years before us & in the years to come, Shaun & I would often walk along the front, but if we dared venture into Pleasurama, we had to walk past the Bingo bit where my brother in law would do his best to embarrass the life out of us by saying things like *Hello, young lovers* & encourage his punters/customers to turn round & look at us. When we got engaged in August 1981, he even got his customers to clap as we walked through. Anyone who knows me well will know that there would have been a red sky over Ramsgate when that happened, because I can blush for England & hate, hate HATE being the centre of attention. My brother in law, being 8 years older than Shaun, seemed to enjoy pulling the big brother stunt at every opportunity & being young & naive, we never thought to challenge him, we just blushed & smiled our way through !! :o) If he tried it now, it'd be a different story !! :o)

When my daughter was small, we only spent a few days on the beach in the summer. She's lucky in that, like her Dad, she goes a bit red & then a lovely golden brown. I still burn as easily as I did when I was a kid, so we mostly went out on day trips to castles & museums, or she had her paddling pool in the garden. Mind you, if you asked her, she'd say she was deprived because she never had a sand pit !! :o) 

Fast forward to 2012 :o)

The past 6 summers have been pretty grotty, and so far, this year has really been bad. We can only hope that the weather forecasters are right when they say summer is on its way this week. Most of the schools have now closed for the holidays so hopefully, the kids will have a nice break. If not, then I suppose we can just hope for an Indian Summer when they all go back to school :o)

In the meantime, here are some photos taken yesterday. A typical 21st century British summer at the seaside !! :o)

 Not quite sure what this thing is, but I think it's something to do with the wind farm. I might be wrong, I probably am, but it's a pretty big boat/floaty thing & it looked pretty impressive sailing out !! :o)

 The skies had opened & we were on the way home from town, getting wetter by the minute. My boots decided to spring a leak, so I didn't walk home, I squelched home !! :o) If they'd done it in town, I could have bought some new ones, but no, they waited till we were more than half way home :o)

 Now I'm switiching to *grumpy not-so-old-woman* mode :o) When I was a kid & a young adult, weeds like this were never seen !! The council would have cleared them all, sprayed them or pulled them out. Not these days though. No doubt they'll say they don't have the resources or the man power, but quite frankly, with so many people unemployed in Thanet, I don't think it would hurt if those on Jobseeker's Allowance worked one day a week keeping the paths, beaches & parks clean & tidy. I'm not saying they should do it every day, but one day a week wouldn't kill them & quite frankly, I think it'd do them good & it'd do the town good, too.

 The back of Pugin's Grange. We've been trying to get there for the past few years, ever since the Landmark Trust *did it up*, but things always seem to happen to stop us - Shaun going into hospital, torrential rain, unexpected visitors etc. Maybe we'll get there in September, on their next open days. Fingers crossed :o)

 Fancy a swim ? You couldn't possibly get any wetter :o)

Ah !! A Ramsgate landmark !!! The famous blocked drain !!  I mentioned the drains in the *I've said it before . . *  blog :o) Some things never change & it's obvious that the council still haven't invested in a *sucky-up machine* !! :o))

My grandad was one of the Ramsgate Corporation gardeners & as kids, we'd often see him tending the flower beds along the front & in the parks. My great grandad was also a park gardener & I honestly believe that if they came back now, they'd be saddened to see the state the town is in.

And on that cheerful note, I shall bid you all a fond farewell & go & get this Saturday started :o)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Mass murder & cleaning up afterwards !! :o)

I've gradually been losing the will to live these past few weeks :o( 

The rain has brought nothing but slugs & snails, weeds & knee high grass. The slugs & snails have been like the Armada crossing my garden path to get to the flowers & plants - late one evening last week, I counted 78 snails coming out from under the ivy, across the path, marching on towards their goal. Gawd knows how many others there were further up the garden in my veggies & elsewhere. I didn't have the heart to look.

The weeds have more than doubled in size, amount & strength. I nearly strangled my stupid self doing battle with some bind weed that had really taken root amongst my Aquilegia & Hemerocallis.  As I grabbed a handful to pull out, it not only decided to fight back, it had a secret weapon. A great big fat, ugly slimy slug hidden in its leaves, that decided - the ONE TIME I wasn't wearing my gloves - to look me square in the eye & slither on to my hand !!!! SCREEEEEEEEAM !!!!!

 I rushed straight indoors, scrubbed my hands with antibacterial hand wash 5 times - yes, FIVE times - & then had a shower as well !! A bit OTT ? Maybe. But once you've had a slug touch you, you never feel clean again. Or maybe that's just me !! :o) Shudder !!!

My veggies have either been eaten by snails, drowned or gone to seed overnight :o( I'll be lucky to salvage anything except raspberries. THEY have the survival skills of a . . . . . a . . . a great survivilling survivor !! :o)  Not only are they bursting out of the fruit cage, they are tunnelling under the paths & popping up in flower beds & the veg plot as though they were escaping from Colditz :o)

  I'm seriously beginning to think that my garden is being used by aliens, cleverly disguised as raspberries, weeds, slugs & snails, as a training camp for taking over the world.  I keep expecting to look out the kitchen door & see slugs abseiling down the conservatory windows & snails trying to fit Army issue backpacks on top of their shells :o) In the background will be raspberries in tanks & weeds in full combat gear, marching ever onwards, cutting down any lovely flowers or veggies in their way !!

This rain really has a lot to answer for.

Although the sun is shining today - well, it WAS up to half an hour ago - I still can't cut the grass because the ground is wet & squelchy under foot.  You can bet your bottom dollar/pound/euro (insert currency of your choice)  that by the time it's dried out enough, before I have chance to get the lawnmower out, the rain will decide to come back & have another go.

BUT !! *What about the mass murder ??* I hear you cry !!  Well, hold on to your hats. Confession time !!

No, I haven't shot Shaun - those of you who know us, know how often I say it'd be easier just to shoot him - I've been on a snail & slug killing spree !! Oh yes, I will not let those!"**%$?*!  get my garden goodies without a fight. They may have won the battle, but they haven't won the war. Yet . . .  .

I can't use slug pellets because Grandsons 1a & 1b are often here, playing in the garden. We also have foxes & hedgehogs, as well as loads of birds & I don't really know how pellets would affect the wildlife. Eggshells & sharp sand haven't worked & as we don't drink, we haven't tried the beer trick - waste of good beer anyway, I think :o) - so I'm afraid I've been left with no alternative than to use salt. Yep, plain old table salt, the cheaper the better :o) I sprinkle it on the paths & on any slug or snail that tries to escape my evil clutches !!  They only sizzle for a minute . . . .

The next morning, the clearing up begins.  Bodies lie scattered across the battlefield  as far as the eye can see. Some have almost made it home, just to be cut down on the final leg, others have scarcely left the safety of the ivy before it's *Goodbye cruel world !!*

But do I care ? Do I eckerslike !!!! I spent a lot of time early in the year preparing the garden, sowing seeds, planting out, weeding, watering, feeding & tending everything. And I did NOT do it for the benefit of all the flippin' slugs & snails !! What good do they actually do in the garden ? I mean, if they ate the weeds, then fair enough, but do they ? No. They are in cahoots with the weeds & all they want to do is hide amongst them & pounce on any poor, unsuspecting gardener who happens to cross their path. Well, they've got a fight now, cos I am armed with salt & I ain't afraid to scatter it !! So there !! :o)

And on that note, here are a few pics of some flowers that HAVE managed to survive the rain, the wind & the slugs & snails :o)

This orange lily looked lovely against the brown fence. It was a real splash of sunshine :o)

Hollyhocks that smack me in the face every time I come out of the greenhouse :o)

Sweet smelling pink carnations :o)

Green plums :o) Not very good as eaters, but fab in a crumble with lashings of thick custard :o)

A beautiful, delicate poppy, one of my favourite flowers.

Part of my poor, overgrown, wet, soggy, neglected garden. The daisies are out in force this year, taking over the grass.

Even though the garden is somewhat overgrown, this is one of my favourite photos. I love the poppies against the marguerites, it just looks all meadowland-ish to me :o)

Let's hope the weather forecasters are right & that summer will be here next week. It seems to have been a very long  & very wet Spring :o)